The Myth of African Mercenaries
Exposing the lies about the presence of ‘African mercenaries’ in Libya - Amnesty International
The presence of ‘African mercenaries’ in Libya was a lie used by NATO and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media to de-legitimise and demonise the Libyan government and cover up the mass racist lynchings, torture and imprisonment of black Libyans and migrant workers by the ‘rebels’. Surely as a self-proclaimed human rights organisation Amnesty International should have exposed these heinous ‘rebel’ crimes to the world, condemned the mainstream media’s complicity and campaigned on behalf of the black communities in Libya facing this racist onslaught.
20th March 2011
The War in Libya: Race, ‘Humantarianism and the Media – Maximilian Forte
One of the interesting and very neglected features of the current “humanitarian intervention” in Libya is the extent to which it implicitly buys into racialized nationalist myths produced on the ground in Libya, adopting them without question and thus without concern for context, with little in the way of a critical examination of the media manipulation and calculated spread of racial fear by the leadership of “the rebels.” It is not a simple matter of the Libyan opposition showing signs of xenophobia — if that were true, it would resent the involvement of North Americans and Europeans. Instead, this is a racially selective xenophobia, with a preferential option for Western (i.e., U.S. and European) intervention, and against the presence of “Africans” (code for Sub-Saharan, black Africans). It reminds me of an old racial saying I learned in the Caribbean, truncated here: “If you’re white, you’re alright . . . and if you’re black, go back.” The point here is to explore and critique an issue that thus far exists only on the margins of media coverage and human rights discourse around Libya, that being the extent to which racism, and specifically the demonization of Sub-Saharan Africans, provides the unifying logic that bridged local revolt with imperial intervention.
In a situation where we have been told so little, and so many blind spots have been calculatingly put in place, what is apparent?
First, it was right from the intended start of the national protests (that is, Feb. 17 — although protests in fact began two days earlier) that several opposition spokesmen, anonymous “Libyan” Twitter accounts, and other persons who would become associated with the insurgents’ “Transitional National Council” (TNC) produced the paradox of racial/racist hysteria and humanitarian intervention. This was a double-barreled rhetoric: one barrel firing off accusations about foreign/black/African mercenaries engaged in “massacres” against Libyans, and the other barrel firing off demands for immediate Western intervention in the form of a no-fly zone — the latter to help protect against the former. The two went together — that is not an adventurous conclusion, as the two came together.
Friday 24 June 2011
Rebels have repeatedly charged that mercenary troops from Central and West Africa have been used against them. The Amnesty investigation found there was no evidence for this. “Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released,” says Ms Rovera. “Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents.”
Others were not so lucky and were lynched or executed. Ms Rovera found two bodies of migrants in the Benghazi morgue and others were dumped on the outskirts of the city. She says: “The politicians kept talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued because they were released without publicity.”
Nato intervention started on 19 March with air attacks to protect people in Benghazi from massacre by advancing pro-Gaddafi troops. There is no doubt that civilians did expect to be killed after threats of vengeance from Gaddafi. During the first days of the uprising in eastern Libya, security forces shot and killed demonstrators and people attending their funerals, but there is no proof of mass killing of civilians on the scale of Syria or Yemen.
Most of the fighting during the first days of the uprising was in Benghazi, where 100 to 110 people were killed, and the city of Baida to the east, where 59 to 64 were killed, says Amnesty. Most of these were probably protesters, though some may have obtained weapons.
Amateur videos show some captured Gaddafi supporters being shot dead and eight badly charred bodies were found in the remains of the military headquarters in Benghazi, which may be those of local boys who disappeared at that time.
Amnesty International crisis researcher, Donatella Rovera spent the period from 27 February to 29th May in Misrata, Benghasi, Ajabiya and Ras Lanouf. Yesterday she was interviewed by Austria’s ‘The Standard’ and had this to say on the subject:
“We examined this issue in depth and found no evidence. The rebels spread these rumours everywhere, which had terrible consequences for African guest workers: there was a systematic hunt for migrants, some were lynched and many arrested. Since then, even the rebels have admitted there were no mercenaries, almost all have been released and have returned to their countries of origin, as the investigations into them revealed nothing.”
Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/blog/12863#ixzz1eP7rZOwx
Published: August 23, 2011
And there is the mantra, with racist overtones, that the Qaddafi government is using African mercenaries, which rebels repeat as fact over and over. There have been no confirmed cases of that; supposedly there are many African prisoners of war being held in Benghazi, but conveniently journalists are not allowed to see them. There are, however, African guest workers, poorly paid migrant labor, many of whom, unarmed, have been labeled mercenaries.
Journalists visit prisoners held by rebels in Libya
March 23, 2011
By Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times
The prisoners looked on as we crowded into the yard, some with fear clearly written on their faces. The whole thing started with one official telling the prisoners to say out loud where they were captured. One by one, the men said Bin Jawwad, Ras Lanuf, Port Brega, Ajdabiya or Benghazi — all scenes of heavy fighting in recent weeks
A middle-aged African waited for a moment before loudly proclaiming his innocence to no one in particular. “I am a worker, not a fighter. They took me from my house and [raped] my wife,” he said, gesturing with his hands. Before he could say much more, a pair of guards told him to shut up and hustled him through the steel doors of a cell block, which quickly slammed behind them.
Several reporters protested and the man was eventually brought back out. He spoke in broken, heavily accented English and it was hard to hear and understand him amid the scrum of scribes pushing closer.
He said his name was Alfusainey Kambi, and again professed innocence before being confronted by an opposition official, who produced two Gambian passports. One was old and tattered and the other new. And for some reason, the official said the documents were proof positive that Kambi was a Kadafi operative.
I moved on to other prisoners who had also been trotted out for photographs and questions. The whole scene had an unsettling feel, as if these men had already been tried and convicted — and all that was left were their executions.
Times reporter David Zucchino, our interpreter and I skipped the bus ride back and instead got a lift from a passing motorist. In the car, our interpreter, a Libyan national, asked Zucchino: “So what do you think? Should we just go ahead and kill them?”
Channel 4 News
31st August 2011
Migrants narrowly escape racist rebels
Racist rebel crimes throughout the Libyan conflict
18th February 2011
Amer Saad, a political activist from Derna, told al-Jazeera: “The protesters in al-Bayda have been able to seize control of the military airbase in the city and have executed 50 African mercenaries and two Libyan conspirators. Even in Derna today, a number of conspirators were executed. They were locked up in the holding cells of a police station because they resisted, and some died burning inside the building.”
22 February 2011
With the events of the past few days in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya), UNHCR has become increasingly concerned about dangers for civilians and especially for asylum-seekers and refugees as many may inadvertently be caught up in this violence.
We have no access at this time to the refugee community. Over the past months we have been trying to regularize our presence in Libya, and this has constrained our work.
Some of the reports we are getting from third-party sources are very worrying. A journalist has passed information to us from Somalis in Tripoli who say they are being hunted on suspicion of being mercenaries. He says they feel trapped and are frightened to go out, even though there is little or no food at home.
Prior to the current unrest UNHCR had registered over 8,000 refugees in Libya, with a further 3,000 asylum-seekers having pending cases. The main places of origin are Palestine, Sudan, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia and Chad.
We ask all countries to recognize the humanitarian needs at this time of all people fleeing targeted violence, threats, and other human rights abuses in Libya.
The UNHCR said it had received “alarming reports” that Libyans were turning on refugees from other African countries, suspecting them of being mercenaries fighting for the administration of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
“African refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea have told us that just being a black face in Libya is very dangerous at the moment,” Wilkes said.
25 February 2011
One Turkish construction worker told the BBC: “We had 70-80 people from Chad working for our company. They were cut dead with pruning shears and axes, attackers saying: ‘You are providing troops for Gaddafi.’ The Sudanese were also massacred. We saw it for ourselves.”
Black Africans in Libya Live in Fear
by Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Jazeera reports that Black African workers now live in fear in the rebel-held territories in Libya. Some of them have been attacked by mobs, others have been imprisoned, and some of their homes and workshops have been torched. “Many African workers say they felt safer under the Gaddafi regime,” says Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Benghazi.
“What we are looking at here,” says Rowland, “is the ugly face of the revolution.” Al Jazeera reports on this “ugly face” as if the channel had nothing to do with its emergence, chalking it up to “racism” that “when law and order break down . . . can rise to the surface.” However, it is none other than Al Jazeera (together with Western corporate media) that, by conveying Libyan rebel testimonies without independently verifying their accuracy, has been spreading the very rumors that it now pretends to deplore: “Eastern Libya is rife with rumors about African mercenaries brought in by Gaddafi to put down the uprising.”
If Al Jazeera now sees an ugly face in Libya, it is only looking at the face of a monster for whose birth it served as chief midwife, passing off a neoliberal pro-imperialist civic-military coup d’état against a neoliberal pro-imperialist regime — aka the sorriest of bourgeois faction fights — as a “revolution”1 and inciting people to join it. That is very clever of the Gulf Arab ruling classes, whose interests now clearly shape what Al Jazeera says and what it doesn’t say. There is certainly no better way to disfigure the Arab Revolt that is now threatening them at home.
Migrant Workers explain the events in Benghazi
Race and Arab Nationalism in Libya
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
An Associated Press report described 20 men held as “mercenaries” in a Benghazi jail cell, “looking disheveled and frightened.” Outside, “three effigies were hanging from lampposts and flagpoles – all depicting mercenaries.” A spokesman for the local rebel organizing committee said, “If people knew they were up there, they would tear down the door.” He was clearly describing a lynch mob. But these men were “simply ordinary African workers who got caught up in the middle of this chaos,” according to to Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, who met with them.
A Time Magazine story described videos that
“…show the bodies of several dead, black African men killed by the protestors, including the corpses of two men being paraded on the hood of a car and driven through a crowd of demonstrators in al-Baida. Another video shows a black African man, who has been caught by the demonstrators, being hit and punched. A protestor asks: ‘Who is giving you orders?’ The man replies: ‘They come from up high. I swear, I swear…orders, orders.’ The protestor asks: ‘They told you to fire at us?’ The man replies: ‘Yes, yes.’”
But a man calling himself Fazzani told France 24 International News:
“I am very sorry to see these clips. One of the guys in the seen [sic] is black Libyan ‘not from other African countries.’ His family lives in EL Mansoura village in Elwadi shatty district about 200 KM from Borack Ashhati. (Borack AL Shatty is about 700KM south of Tripoli). I have not got permission to put his name here. Hope his family will see this and they will clarify.”
Fazzani described himself as a “Disappointed Black Libyan.” He added a “few facts” of Libyan life:
“Most of the residents of Fezzan (Southern part of Libya) are black skinned. Try to find photo of Libyan Embassordor [sic] to UN Mr Abdelrahman Shalgam (Is he mercenary?) Try to see photo of Top man of Gaddafi’s Information office director (Bashir Saleh), he is more dark skinned than Nelson Mandela, does that mean he is a mercenary from Africa? I am not trying to be a racist but just to clarify few facts.”
Libyan rebel ethnic cleansing and lynching of black Libyans and Migrant Workers
Further specific evidence has emerged that there is a strong racist element within the rebel forces, including at command level, and it is the stated intention of these forces to ethnically cleanse areas they capture of their dark-skinned inhabitants.
Racism amongst the rebels including at command level
In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, journalist Sam Dagher pointed out the obvious fact that the Libyan war is aggravating ethnic tensions in that country. The article talks about the fate of Tawergha, a small town 25 miles to the south of Misrata, inhabited mostly by black Libyans, a legacy of its 19th-century origins as a transit town in the slave trade:
Ibrahim al-Halbous, a rebel commander leading the fight near Tawergha, says all remaining residents should leave once if his fighters capture the town. “They should pack up,” Mr. Halbous said. “Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.”
Other rebel leaders are reported as:
“calling for drastic measures like banning Tawergha natives from ever working, living or sending their children to schools in Misrata.”
In addition, according to the article, as a result of the battle for Misrata:
nearly four-fifths of residents of Misrata’s Ghoushi neighborhood were Tawergha natives. Now they are gone or in hiding, fearing revenge attacks by Misratans, amid reports of bounties for their capture.
Amid allegations of black mercenaries and stories of mass rape by the inhabitants of Tawergha, Sam Dagher reports on further evidence of the racism amongst the rebel forces:
Some of the hatred of Tawergha has racist overtones that were mostly latent before the current conflict. On the road between Misrata and Tawergha, rebel slogans like “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin” have supplanted pro-Gadhafi scrawl.
The racial tensions have been fueled by the regime’s alleged use of African mercenaries to violently suppress demonstrators at the start of the Libyan uprising in February, and the sense that the south of the country, which is predominantly black, mainly backs Col. Gadhafi.
Black migrants flee rebel controlled areas
“They wanted to kill blacks there,” he says. “I’d be killed if I stayed.”
“They catch me with a gun in front of my wife and kids. They arrested me, tied me up and covered my eyes and took me to their camp for questioning about Muammar Qaddafi.”
Ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans and migrant workers by NATO-backed rebels spreads to Tripoli – 27/08/2011
The mounting number of deaths of men from sub-Saharan Africa at the hands of the rebels – lynchings in many cases – raises disturbing questions about the opposition administration, the Transitional National Council (TNC) taking over as Libya’s government, and about Western backing for it.
The atrocities have apparently not been confined to Tripoli: Amnesty International has reported similar violence in the coastal town of Zawiyah, much of it against men from sub-Saharan Africa who, it has been claimed, were migrant workers.
Black migrants flee Tripoli to escape ruthless, racist rebels – 29/08/2011
Amnesty and racist rebel atrocities in Libya
Posted on August 31, 2011 by HRI Mark
Where reports of racial atrocities have reached the media, the story has been that the victims are “African mercenaries” despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Amnesty workers on the ground have reported that the widespread allegations of African mercenaries have little or no basis in fact – but this information has been suppressed and the fears of African mercenaries, extremely useful to the rebel side, have been whipped up by the media and NATO politicians such as UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
The rebel commander in Misrata threatened to ethnically cleanse Tawergha, the town to the south of Misrata occupied mainly by dark-skinned people – months later that object seems to have been achieved with direct air support from NATO – yet the crime has been ignored.
The entry of the rebel brigade from Misrata – which the Wall Street Journal reports calls itself the “brigade to purge black skin, slaves” into Tripoli, enabled by NATO, led to inevitable round-ups of black people, massacres and abuses of human rights including the slaughter of patients in the Abu Salim hospital.
Well, today are Amnesty reporting some of the facts in Tripoli although whether this will reach the mainstream media is another question.
Libya’s spectacular revolution has been disgraced by racism
Tuesday 30 August 2011
The basis of this is rumours, disseminated early in the rebellion, of African mercenaries being unleashed on the opposition. Amnesty International’s Donatella Rivera was among researchers who examined this allegation and found no evidence for it. Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch similarly had not “identified one mercenary” among the scores of men being arrested and falsely labelled by journalists as such.
Lurking behind this is racism. Libya is an African nation – however, the term “Africans” is used in Libya to reference the country’s black minority. The Amnesty International researcher Diana Eltahawy says that the rebels taking control of Libya have tapped into “existing xenophobia”. The New York Times refers to “racist overtones”, but sometimes the racism is explicit. A rebel slogan painted in Misrata during the fighting salutes “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin”. A consequence of this racism has been mass arrests of black men, and gruesome killings – just some of the various atrocities that human rights organisations blame rebels for. The racialisation of this conflict does not end with hatred of “Africans”. Graffiti by rebels frequently depicted Gaddafi as a demonic Jew.
Tuesday 30 August 2011
‘Libyans don’t like people with dark skin, but some are innocent’
Speaking in quick nervous sentences, Mr Bahr tries to convince a suspicious local militia leader in charge of the police station in the Faraj district of Tripoli, that he is a building worker who has been arrested simply because of his colour. “I liked Gaddafi, but I never fought for him,” Mr Bahr says, adding that he had worked in Libya for three years laying tiles.
But the Libyan rebels are hostile to black Africans in general. One of the militiamen, who have been in control of the police station since the police fled, said simply: “Libyan people don’t like people with dark skins, though some of them may be innocent.”
Black African immigrants in the past benefited from Gaddafi’s aspiration to be a pan-African leader. The position of illegal immigrants was always uncertain, but they were essential to the economy. With the fall of Gaddafi, those who have not already fled face persecution or even murder. Last weekend 30 bodies of mostly black men, several of them handcuffed and others already wounded, were found after an apparent mass execution at a roundabout near Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya headquarters.
Rebel fighters target Black Libyans, sub-Saharan Africans. Amnesty Reports
By Caroline Alexander – Aug 31, 2011
Amnesty investigators this week visited the Central Tripoli Hospital and the capital’s morgue where they witnessed abuses, including men being dragged from hospital beds and detained, the London-based group said in a statement late yesterday. Some people are afraid to leave their homes, it said.
Sub-Saharan Africans risk reprisals from NATO-backed rebels because of allegations that Qaddafi used African mercenaries during the six-month conflict, Amnesty said. Many black Libyans are from the western town of Tawarga, which rebels associate with the shelling and siege of nearby Misrata by pro-Qaddafi forces, it said.
“The problem is black Libyans always were seen as outsiders, and this stems probably from how Qaddafi decided he would be an African leader of an African state and encouraged a large amount of African immigrants, some of whom served in his wars,” Shashank Joshi, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said today in an interview.
Africans at risk in Libya
Libya’s trapped African workers
After recognising the NTC, the Nigerian government finally speak out against the mass lynchings of blacks by the ‘rebels’
5 09 2011
“The truth is that when Gaddafi was in office, he had sympathy for black Africans and many have even settled in Libya.
“In fact, there is a city in Southern Libya called Suyima that is mostly populated by Nigerians, especially the Hausa. The city shares borders with Algeria and Niger.
“But due to Gaddafi’s sympathy for the blacks, the rebels assumed that the blacks will naturally do everything to protect Gaddafi. So, they decided to kill any black man on sight.”
“The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to note with concern reports of incessant abuse of helpless civilians in Libya by some unscrupulous elements who continue to take undue advantage of the ongoing crisis in that country, particularly to carry out attacks on Black migrant workers and other Black Africans stranded in Libya arising from crisis in that country.”
“Regrettably, these reports revealed outright killings, rape and extortion of money from these helpless Africans who have taken refuge in camps as well as those in detention and incarceration.”
NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya
Wed, 07/09/2011 – 02:35 — Glen Ford
The western media pretended not to notice that their heroes were behaving like rampaging Ku Klux Klansmen.”
How could well-financed correspondents for The New York Times and the Washington Post have been unaware of that which was known to NPR’s West African reporter Ofeibea Quist Acton: that a Benghazi mob had hacked to death 70 to 80 Chadian and Sudanese oil company workers in a single incident – a major massacre in a medium-sized town. African media were alive with reports from the 1.5 million Black immigrant workers in Libya of mass killings, gruesome public lynchings, savage burnings, and organized rapes. But it was as if the western media were encamped in a different Benghazi, one filled with well-mannered lawyers and students forced by events to become militia, whose hatred of Moammar Gaddafi was manifest proof of their virtue. Like little D.W. Griffiths, the producers and reporters for the Times, the Post, CNN and the whole corporate alphabet soup each day directed their own mini-versions of “Birth of a Nation,” in which the local racist mobs are the good guys and the villains are dark, sub-Saharan “mercenaries” and Viagra-inflamed government soldiers – both grave threats to Arab womanhood, and both mostly figments of western media imaginations.
Telegraph admits major racist reprisals by rebels against civilians in Tawergha
By Andrew Gilligan, Tawarga
7:00AM BST 11 Sep 2011
Tawargha, a once bustling town which supported Gadaffi, is now deserted
‘Until last month, the town of Tawarga was home to 10,000 civilians.
But as dusk fell over it last week, the apartment blocks stretched, black and dead, into the distance, and the only things moving were sheep.
This pro-Gaddafi settlement has been emptied of its people, vandalised and partly burned by rebel forces. The Sunday Telegraph was the first to visit the scene of what appears to be the first major reprisal against supporters of the former regime.’
‘Whatever the truth, there appears little room for reconciliation in this corner of the new Libya. For the first time in the country’s revolution, we saw large numbers of houses, and virtually every shop, systematically vandalised, looted or set on fire.’
‘Along the road that leads into Tawargha, the Misurata Brigade has painted a slogan. It is, it says, “the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin.”
“We have met Tawargas in detention, taken from their homes simply for being Tawargas,” said Diana Eltahawy, a researcher for Amnesty International who is currently in Libya. “They have told us that they have been forced to kneel and beaten with sticks.”
Even fleeing is not, it seems, enough to save you. Tawargas have also been arrested at checkpoints, seized from hospitals and detained on the street. “They are really afraid. They have nowhere to go,” said Ms Eltahawy.
On Aug 29, Amnesty says it saw a Tawarga patient at the Tripoli Central Hospital being taken by three men, one of them armed, for “questioning in Misurata”. Amnesty was also told that at least two other Tawarga men had vanished after being taken for questioning from Tripoli hospitals.
One 45-year-old flight dispatcher and his uncle were arrested by armed rebels while out shopping in the al-Firnaj area of Tripoli on 28 August.
They were taken to the Military Council headquarters at Mitiga Airport just east of the capital. The men told Amnesty they were beaten with the butt of a rifle and received death threats. Both were held for several days in Mitiga and are still detained in Tripoli.’
‘And it is not the first time that pro-Gaddafi civilians have suffered reprisals. In July, as rebels swept through the Nafusa mountains, the village of Qawalish was subjected to a very similar fate. Many of the people there, pensioners and young children, simply could not have been part of any military action for the regime.
Back in ghostly Tawarga, there is little sympathy for the victims’ plight.
Mr Fatateth said: “The military council will decide what will happen to the buildings. But over our dead bodies will the Tawargas return.”
Ibrahim al-Halbous, another local rebel commander, put it even more simply.
“Tawarga no longer exists,” he said. ‘
U.S Congressman Wants Libyan Rebels Investigated on ‘Crimes Against Humanity’
Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., reacting to reports in The Wall Street Journal has called for an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the reported killings of Black Libyans in the city of Tawergha.
Rep. Jackson (D-IL-2) also tells The Black Star News he will ask that U.S. assistance for reconstruction and transition to democracy in Libya be conditional. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that rebels from Misurata had torched the homes that belonged to the predominantly dark-skinned residents of the city of Tawergha, which is now abandoned.
A Journal reporter witnessed some of the torching and wrote that the words “slaves” and “negroes” were scribbled on the walls of the now emptied homes.
The town’s entire population of 10,000 is gone.
In an earlier news report The Wall Street Journal reported that rebels from the city of Misurata had declared that Tawergha would be “no more” and that the units conducting the attacks was named “The Brigade for Purging Slaves, black Skin.”
Misurata rebels blame residents of Tawergha, which was used by the Libyan army under the government of Muammar al-Quathafi, as staging ground for the siege on Misurata. The Journal has also reported on long-historical feuds, that predate the Libyan civil war, between the “white” residents of Misurata and the predominantly Black ones of Tawergha.
The Wall Street Journal Tuesday also reported that the Transitional National Council’s (TNC) “prime minister” Mahmoud Jibril, referring to the reported atrocities in Tawergha by rebels, said: “Regarding Tawergha my own viewpoint is that nobody has the right to interfere in this matter except the people of Misurata.”
Rep. Jackson took exception to Jibril’s remarks.
“Racism in the form of ethnic cleansing, killing and genocide is wrong anytime, anyplace and against anybody in the world,” Rep. Jackson said, today. “And it appears as though the Rebel leader, Mahmoud Jibril, is using the American idea that the South used to protect the institution of slavery – the 10th Amendment in our Constitution – to say, in essence, ‘it’s a states’ right and local control issue.’”
Libyan Rebels Accused of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Black Genocide
Written by Alex Newman
NATO and U.S.-backed rebel forces in Libya are reportedly engaging in systematic attacks against the black population in what some analysts have called war crimes and even genocide, sparking condemnation worldwide from human-rights groups and officials.
Reports and photographic evidence indicate that numerous atrocities including mass executions have taken place even in recent weeks. Many black victims were found with their hands bound behind their backs and bullets through their skulls.
Horrific internment camps, systematic rape, torture, lynching, and looting of businesses owned by blacks have all been reported as well. And countless sub-Saharan Africans have been forced to flee their homes in Libya to avoid the same fate.
The al-Qaeda-linked rebels’ campaign of racist terror began shortly after the Benghazi uprising in February. More than a few videos surfaced on the internet in the early months of the conflict showing brutal lynchings and beheadings while Western-backed rebels cheered.
But as insurgent forces solidify their grip over most of Libya, the race-based persecution is quickly intensifying. Entire cities and towns formerly occupied by blacks have been ethnically cleansed and destroyed.
“The Brigade for Purging Slaves, black Skin” — apparently a rebel slogan — was found months ago scrawled all along the road to Tawergha. And today, the coastal city of about 10,000 mostly black residents has essentially been wiped off the map.
Rebel forces rounded up remaining inhabitants and reportedly took them to camps, although reporters searching for the former residents have not been able to locate them. Homes, businesses, and schools were then looted before being burned to the ground.
Finally, graffiti reading “slaves,” “negroes,” and “abeed” — a derogatory term for blacks — was painted all over the ruins by NATO’s revolutionaries. The former city is now a “closed military area,” according to rebels guarding a checkpoint interviewed by the McClatchy news service.
“Tawarga no longer exists,” a rebel commander told the Wall Street Journal. Another rebel fighter boasted more recently: “We are setting it on fire to prevent anyone from living here again.”
The anti-black brutality could also be found in the capital, Tripoli, according to a correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and others. Earlier this month Ruth Pollard described a prison where she found, among other horrors, jail cells packed with more than 25 prisoners.
Rampant Racism – Black Migrants barred from fleeing Libya
17 09 2011
“We have had to stop the evacuation process for the time being because the NTC says they have to make sure of the migrants, to register them and to identify who is a real migrant and who is not,” spokesman Jumbe Omari Jumbe told Reuters.
More than 3,000 migrants and their family members, mainly from Chad, Niger, Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria, but also from Jordan, Egypt and Pakistan, are stuck in Sabha. The city is controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces and is under siege by the troops of the NTC.
Many of them have no identity papers because they fled from violence and possible persecution in great haste, says the IOM. Some of the refugees had been living in Libya for years before the civil war forced them to flee.
The IOM’s latest plan had been to evacuate the migrants by road to Tripoli, for further transport to Tunisia, as the road to Chad was deemed perilous, Jumbe said.
Sub-Saharan residents of Libya have been targeted by rebel forces ever since they took control of the capital, Tripoli. There were reports of mass round-ups and abuse of the migrants.
Before the war, between 1.5 million and 2.5 million migrants lived in the country, but more than 600,000 have fled, mainly to Tunisia and Egypt, according to the IOM.
African migrants face racism
18 September 2011
The fighters forced their way into the Nigerian family’s home. They beat the couple living there. They stole their possessions and money, abducted the father of the house and turned on his 16-year-old daughter. She told us what happened:
“A group of armed men came to our house. They started knocking, they came in saying ‘murtazaka’. They locked my mother inside a toilet. Six of them raped me. They took our belongings and money. My father tried to stop them but they hit him and carried him away.”
That was nearly three weeks ago and she has not seen or heard of her father since.
Evidence has emerged in a series of interviews that suggests that some engaged in a violent campaign of abuse and intimidation against the black immigrant community in Tripoli.
Hundreds of men have been arrested with little or no evidence, homes have been pillaged and people beaten up. Most victims are too afraid to be identified but they contacted the BBC to air their grievances.
One man showed us around another home that had been ransacked. A thick iron bar in the corner of the dark room had been used to beat the men and the women there as the rebels made off with their money and few possessions.
Libyan Rebels ‘Brigade for Purging Slaves’ targets black Africans
19 09 2011
Black Libyans and African migrants have been targeted by Libyan rebel fighters who even have a special unit for the purpose. The ‘Brigade for Purging Slaves, black skin’ have torched the homes of residents of Tawergha, whilst black African migrants are rounded up in Tripoli and thrown into prison, suspected of being mercenaries in the employ of Gaddafi. Reports from the Wall Street Journal and Black Star News drew attention to the abuse dark and black skinned people were suffering in Libya, several months ago. The issue was rarely raised in the mainstream media. It would have conflicted with the image of Nato supported rebels fighting a noble cause if it was widely reported they were committing human rights abuses which were meant to be the preserve of the Gaddafi regime. Black Star News reports on the media silence, writing
“Rather than concede that the side they supported in civil war is carrying out war crimes they would rather suppress the story.” It adds “The White House has yet to issue a single statement condemning this ethnic cleansing of Black people.”
Witch hunts in ‘Free Libya’
by Lizzie Phelan
23 09 2011
London (United Kingdom)
While NATO’s mandate enjoins it to protect civilians, the Alliance allows the forces of the Libyan National Transition Council to continue their abuses. After hunting down black Africans, the summary executions now extend to members of the Qadhadhfa tribe, that of the fallen Leader. Hundreds of thousands of African workers have already fled the country to escape death; the time has now come for certain Libyans to take the road to exile if they want to survive.
Libya’s NTC detaining and torturing thousands without charges
13 10 2011
In investigations of the NATO-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya, Amnesty International has found the group is holding more than 2,500 detainees in makeshift prisons without charges in the wake of their conquest of much of western Libya.
To make matters worse, the detainees are subjected to virtually daily beatings, with guards admitting that they use savage beatings in an effort to get faster “confessions” out of the people there are holding.
Amnesty warned that the NTC risked doing serious harm to their reputation if they did not abandon the practices of arbitrary detention and torture, which seems unlikely since most of the detainees are held not by the national NTC but by its assorted local allies.
For the NTC fighters in many of these cities, the detentions are part of a broad campaign of revenge against those perceived to be opposed to their rebellion. In many cases this has included black migrant workers, as past reports have the NTC arresting black people entirely on the basis of their skin color, taking that as evidence they were mercenaries.
Another report, from Human Rights Watch, also warned NTC forces against targeting civilians in the attack on Sirte. They also urged them to respect the law with respect to the massive number of detainees the city’s conquest is sure to lead to.
NATO claimed it would protect civilians, but has delivered far more killing – a warning to the Arab world and Africa
27 10 2011
As the reality of what western media have hailed as Libya’s “liberation” becomes clearer, the butchering of Gaddafi has been revealed as only a reflection of a much bigger picture. On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch reported the discovery of 53 bodies, military and civilian, in Gaddafi’s last stronghold of Sirte, apparently executed – with their hands tied – by former rebel militia.
Its investigator in Libya, Peter Bouckaert, told me yesterday that more bodies are continuing to be discovered in Sirte, where evidence suggests about 500 people, civilians and fighters, have been killed in the last 10 days alone by shooting, shelling and Nato bombing.
That has followed a two month-long siege and indiscriminate bombardment of a city of 100,000 which has been reduced to a Grozny-like state of destruction by newly triumphant rebel troops with Nato air and special-forces support.
And these massacre sites are only the latest of many such discoveries. Amnesty International has now produced compendious evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities by the rebel militias Britain, France and the US have backed for the last eight months – supposedly to stop exactly those kind of crimes being committed by the Gaddafi regime.
Throughout that time African migrants and black Libyans have been subject to a relentless racist campaign of mass detention, lynchings and atrocities on the usually unfounded basis that they have been loyalist mercenaries. Such attacks continue, says Bouckaert, who witnessed militias from Misrata this week burning homes in Tawerga so that the town’s predominantly black population – accused of backing Gaddafi – will be unable to return.
All the while, Nato leaders and cheerleading media have turned a blind eye to such horrors as they boast of a triumph of freedom and murmur about the need for restraint. But it is now absolutely clear that, if the purpose of western intervention in Libya’s civil war was to “protect civilians” and save lives, it has been a catastrophic failure.
Black Libyans and migrant workers face racist attacks in ‘post-Gaddafi’ Libya
28 10 2011
TRIPOLI — On the coast outside Tripoli, a squalid refugee camp shelters hundreds of African migrants who found work under Libya’s former regime, but are now jobless, discriminated against and unable to return home.
Squatting in the derelict buildings of what was once a training centre for the ousted Libyan leader’s special forces, they face racist abuse, attacks and robberies as they wait each day, hoping someone will offer them work or bring emergency food handouts.
Clothes hang on makeshift washing lines. Piles of rubbish lie everywhere.
“Since we came here… we’ve been hoping, praying to God, believing one day maybe help will come from somewhere, because all we had has been taken,” said Anthony, who worked on a building site before the conflict forced him to seek refuge in Sidi Bilal.
“I’ve been beaten and robbed several times, even in the camp here… Sometimes, when we go out onto the streets, people start throwing stones at us because we’re black,” he added.
The camp’s 700 residents are mostly young Nigerian men who fled the capital two months ago when it fell to the revolutionary forces that last week crushed the final pockets of resistance by Moamer Kadhafi loyalists.
They are a tiny fraction of the number of people displaced by the conflict.
Over 700,000 migrant workers have left Libya since February, according to the International Organisation for Migration, but tens of thousands remain.
The Nigerians, the largest migrant community in Tripoli, found casual work before the city fell, washing cars or labouring on farms and building sites, jobs shunned by most Libyans.
But with many locals angered by claims that sub-Saharan mercenaries supported Kadhafi’s regime, they now face hostility in their host nation.
“It is a problem having the Africans here,” said Adil, one of the camp’s security guards.
“It’s not healthy. They don’t eat good food, they fight each other, and some of them came without passports, bringing diseases with them, only to cross into Europe.”
“The best solution is to send them back to their country,” added the former fighter from Zawiyah.
Most of the camp’s residents say they plan to return home following Kadhafi’s ouster, because they no longer feel safe.
Racist ‘rebel’ onslaught continues: Militias Terrorising Residents of Tawergha
31 10 2011
Human Rights Watch
Militias from the city of Misrata are terrorizing the displaced residents of the nearby town of Tawergha, accusing them of having committed atrocities with Gaddafi forces in Misrata, Human Rights Watch said today. The entire town of 30,000 people is abandoned – some of it ransacked and burned – and Misrata brigade commanders say the residents of Tawergha should never return.
Human Rights Watch interviewed dozens of Tawerghans across the country, including 26 people in detention in and around Misrata and 35 displaced people staying in Tripoli, Heisha, and Hun. They gave credible accounts of some Misrata militias shooting unarmed Tawerghans, and of arbitrary arrests and beatings of Tawerghan detainees, in a few cases leading to death.
“Revenge against the people from Tawergha, whatever the accusations against them, undermines the goal of the Libyan revolution,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “In the new Libya, Tawerghans accused of wrongdoing should be prosecuted based on the law, not subject to vigilante justice.”
The National Transitional Council (NTC) should bring central command and control, as well as accountability, to the more than 100armed groups from Misrata, Human Rights Watch said. Anyone abusing Tawerghans, or preventing their return, is committing a criminal offense.
The people of Tawergha mostly fled in August to the Jufra region, south of Misrata, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which put the number of displaced Tawerghans there at 15,000. Local officials in Hun, a town in Jufra, said 4,000 Tawerghans had sought shelter in three camps there as of early October, and an unknown number are in the town of Sokna and nearby agricultural settlements. Since then, at least 5,000 Tawerghans have moved from Jufra to Benghazi and Tripoli, and other groups are in Tarhuna, Khoms, and the far south.
Cornered in ‘Free’ Libya
By Karlos Zurutuza
TRIPOLI, Nov 5, 2011 (IPS) – “We’ve walked all the way here to tell everybody that we are being treated like dogs,” said 23-year old Hamuda Bubakar, among a couple of hundred black refugees protesting at Martyrs Square in Tripoli. “I’d rather be killed here. I wouldn’t be the first, or the last.”
The refugees came to protest early this week from the barracks of Tarik Matar, a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Tripoli. “We’ve already spent more than two months in those horrible barracks,” said Aisha who preferred not to give her full name.
A few days back, she said, “guerrilla fighters from Misrata (90 kilometres east of Tripoli) entered our place and took seven young guys with them. We still know nothing about them.” Several women at the camp have been abducted and raped in recent weeks, she said.
“Raise your head, you’re a free Libyan”, the group chanted before a stage set up for the recent celebrations. That’s the very slogan that became almost an anthem for the rebels who rose against Gaddafi.
Tempers flared amid the group of armed soldiers guarding the central square. “I should kill you all for what you did to us in Misrata,” shouted a young man in camouflage fatigues. The protesters are from Tawargha, 60 km south of Misrata, that was known as a Gaddafist base.
The armed men at the square, and angry honking soon split up the group.
“Not only do they call us Gaddafists, they hate us for the colour of our skin,” said Abdulkarim Rahman. “All blacks in Libya are going through very hard times lately.”
Abdurrahman Abudheer, a volunteer worker at one of the barracks that used to house construction workers for new apartment blocks, and that are now home to refugees, estimates there are about 27,000 Tawarghis scattered between Tripoli and Benghazi.
“Just in this camp there are over 200 families, all from Tawargha,” said Abudheer. A flashy billboard at the entrance to the camp in the ghostly district Fallah still advertises the “upcoming construction of 1187 houses” by a Turkish company. But now even the grey rows of corrugated iron shacks look more comfortable than those naked and incomplete concrete structures.
The number of refugees is growing by the day, but so is the number of Tripolitanians like Abudheer who show up to help.
Amnesty International expressed concern in September over “increasing cases of violence and indiscriminate arrests against the people from Tawargha.” It said tens of thousands of former residents of Tawargha may be living in conditions similar to those in Fallah, or worse.
“Many families arrive after spending days living on the beach,” said Abudheer. “Most of them are afraid to even walk down the street.”
The scene is similar in Tarik Matar, five minutes drive from Fallah. The most recent census at this camp figures 325 families from Tawargha.
From the room she shares with eight members of her family, Azma, a refugee from Tawargha, showed a portrait of her brother. On Sep. 13 Abdullah was taken from the car he was travelling in with his three children and his sister at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Tripoli.
The last they know of what happened to him is in the autopsy report Azma keeps with her: “Died from several injuries caused by solid and flexible objects throughout the body, especially in the forehead and chest.”
Libya is a lure for migrants, where exploitation waits
At some detention facilities, staff members lease out black African detainees to employers, who make a contribution to the jails to help cover costs. Other migrants are said to be sold outright to employers.
“In some circumstances, it can appear like a legitimate transaction but is essentially exploitative,” Haslam said. “And it’s widespread.”
Migrants often “work off” the debt of their sale, Haslam said, and have no chance to negotiate hours or rates or the kind of work they do.
“With no status in the country, the cycle can continue indefinitely, with the migrant re-traded once the employer no longer needs their services,” he said.
Short documentary exposing the racist character of the rebel uprising – Graphic Images
Youtube Channel depicting some of the racist rebel crimes directed at black Libyans and Migrant workers in Libya
Some of the content featured on this channel is graphic – viewer discretion advised
Background to Rebel Racism
Gaddafi and Pan-Africanism
Col Gaddafi envisages a single African military, currency and passport
Libyan leader and current African Union chairman Muammar Gaddafi has spelled out his plans to create a United States of Africa.
At an AU Executive Council session in Tripoli, he called on the continent to speed up the integration process.
His vision of a pan-African government was at the heart of disputes at February’s AU summit in Ethiopia.
He said an African Union Authority would replace all other organs and be run by three co-ordinators.
The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the establishment of an AU Authority is meant to be the starting point for the envisioned United States of Africa.
More than 60 AU ministers and delegates gathered for a one-day meeting in the Libyan capital to hear Col Gaddafi outline in detail for the first time how his plan would work.
• The current AU Executive Council appoint a head secretary to be in charge of the continent’s foreign affairs
• The AU’s economic development programme, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), would oversee foreign trade
• The head of the AU’s Peace and Security Council would run the continent’s defence matters
Col Gaddafi envisages a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent.
Some officials, particularly from countries more favourable towards Libya have expressed a positive outlook towards the plan, while admitting it will take some time to implement.
But many will privately express deep concern over issues like state sovereignty, says our correspondent.
And others feel the divisions across the continent over the matter are simply too deep to overcome at this time, she adds.
Gaddafi’s Libya threatened Africa’s subordinate role
By Dan Glazebrook
‘This uprising has been characterised by racist violence. On the second day of the uprising 50 African migrants were slaughtered by the rebels. This is all justified in the media by nonsense about ‘African mercenaries’ which Amnesty International have already comprehensively demolished. There were no ‘African mercenaries’. The rebels are waging warfare against the black Libyan population and African migrant workers. NATO want a government that disunites Africa – that will draw North Africa away from its southern neighbours. Therefore it is very important for NATO that the government in Libya is a racist one which will discontinue with the project to unite Africa. It is no mistake that this uprising has been characterised by racist violence – it’s part of the plan.’
Pogrom in Libya September, 2000
Bloody clashes between Libyan youths and many sub-saharan Africans in Libyan cities in September may cast a shadow on the dream of Libyan Leader, Colonel Muamar Ghaddafi to act as a catalyst for the unification of Africa.
The clashes, which are believed to have cost up to a hundred Ghanaian and Nigerian lives, were sparked off when an armed gang from West Africa, believed to be Nigerian, raped and then killed a Libyan woman. Black Africans living in Benghazi, where the incident occurred, were set up and severely beaten. The violence then spread to other Libyan towns.
Ghana’s President Jerry Rawlings who has been one of Ghaddafi’s staunchest friends and supports in Africa, personally lead an evacuation task force from Accra to Tripoli to repatriate the first batch of 238 Ghanaians caught up in the riots. As many as 5,000 Ghanaians had to take refuge at a camp following the riots.
Libya’s oil boom has become a pull factor attracting thousands of African workers. Since the launch of the 1979 Revolution by FIt Lt Rawlings, relations between Accra and Tripoli have been cordial and Ghanaian professionals and artisans have flocked to the country.
In a gesture of goodwill towards sub-Saharan Africa, the Libyan leader recently welcomed workers to his sparsely populated country. However, the sudden influx of thousands of Nigerians, many of whom set up drugs and crime gangs, was deeply resented by the Libyans.
A large proportion of the workforce in Libya is made up of immigrants from other African states, in particular Sudan, Egypt, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Ghana and Nigeria.
Immigrant workers in Libya have generally been treated well but the local preference has always been for Muslims from west and north Africa. The latest batch of immigrants contained large proportions of nonMuslims who were accused of making and selling alcoholic beverages among other illegal activities. .
Most immigrants however, are law abiding and have contributed to the development of Libya by providing both skilled and unskilled labour. According to reports, although the initial targets of the violence were Nigerians, distinctions were soon forgotten and all foreigners from Africa were set upon. These included some Sudanese who have lived harmoniously in the country for decades.
The Libyan leader, who is keen to be seen as a driving force in the unification of Africa, was said to be appaled by the scale of the violence, He promised a full investigation in the affair and blamed it on dissidents.
Migrant Workers From Ghana who Fled Libya Cite Racism
December 16, 2000|ANN M. SIMMONS | TIMES STAFF WRITER
TECHIMAN, Ghana — Thousands of Ghanaian migrant workers who recently returned from Libya after attacks there against black Africans say they are relieved to be home, though their hopes of finding their fortunes have been destroyed.
At least 5,200 Ghanaians have returned since October, after violence against blacks that, by unofficial accounts, left more than 135 dead. In addition, thousands of laborers from Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and other nations have fled Libya, taking a strong resentment toward Libyans with them.
“It was not easy, because being a black man [in Libya], you can’t live there simply,” said George Auther, 26, who returned here in October after spending two years in the predominantly Arab nation as a builder’s apprentice. “You can’t move around freely. The problem is, the Libyans don’t like blacks.”
Although the violence appears to have eased, the attacks threaten to undermine efforts by Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi to drum up support for a union of African nations.
Kadafi blamed the violence on “hidden hostile hands” bent on sabotaging his plans for greater African unity. Many of the repatriated laborers, who expressed support for the Libyan leader’s pan-African ideals, blamed the hostility on racism.
“President Kadafi has a good idea, but his people don’t like blacks, and they don’t think they are Africans because of their skin color,” said Kwame Amponsah, 22. He spent three months in Libya before fleeing in October, returning to Ghana’s poor southwestern agricultural Brong-Ahafo region. As many as 80% of the nation’s returnees hail from this area, according to authorities.